FINDING a bargain in the supermarket isn't always easy – but knowing exactly where to look can help you cut costs as the checkout.
If you're trying to save money on your weekly shop, looking at shelves stacked high with pricey items can be frustrating.
Families have been warned that their food shop bill was set to soar by £360 this year.
Inflation has hit a 40-year high of 9.1% and millions of households are grappling with a cost of living crisis as everything from energy bills to petrol prices rocket.
But Julian House, managing director of My Favourite Voucher Codes, has revealed the aisles you should head to, and what items to avoid, when trying to keep your bill down.
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Saving on fruit and veg
Deciding how to buy your fresh fruit and vegetables can be tricky.
Julian says you should avoid buying loose fruit and greens as they can cost a lot more.
A packet of five Royal Gala apples from Tesco costs £1.70, where as five loose apples will cost you £2.15.
But a 1kg pack of Tesco carrots and 1kg of loose carrots both come in at 45p.
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Prices will vary from store to store and by product, so you should always compare supermarkets to find the best price.
You can check where items are cheapest using Trolley.co.uk which compares the prices of 130,000 products across 14 major supermarkets.
The Latest Deals app also lets you search items and lets you compare prices at several supermarkets to see where it's cheaper.
When to buy in bulk
Julian advises only buying what you need, rather than being drawn into bulk buying products that will most likely go to waste.
He says: "Major retailers like Costco are famous for offering bundle discounts which seem too good to be true, but end up being impractical and over-indulgent.
"Bulk buying can be cheaper, but it isn't always the best choice."
Costco has 29 stores across the UK, but they're only accessible to its members.
A Channel 5 documentary recently revealed a little-known tip can help people to gain access to the club.
The Sun's Squeeze Team found that bulk buying non-perishable goods such as rice, pasta or frozen fish andextra-big bottles of dish-washing liquid can halve the cost of your monthly shop.
But it's important to remember, it's only a deal if you were going to buy the item anyway.
Check out the world food aisle
Julian says there is a whole host of savings to be made in the world food aisle.
Savvy shoppers can save a small fortune by buying their herbs, grains and sauces from there, compared to elsewhere in the shop.
The items found in this aisle are essentially the same but they are just labelled a little differently.
Non perishable foods are usually cheaper from these shelves in stores, but some shoppers skip the aisles completely.
A 400g tin of Summer Pride red kidney beans found in Tesco's World Foods aisle, for example, is 20p cheaper than the supermarket's own-brand version.
Tesco red kidney beans cost 60p while shoppers can get the 'secret' alternative for just 40p in-store and online.
Julian added: "Items in the world food aisle can be much cheaper than elsewhere in the supermarket, particularly long-lasting products.
"You'd be surprised at how much money you can save by adjusting where and when you buy."
Hitting the seasonal aisle after holidays and events like Christmas and Easter it can be a good time to stock up for the following year.
Julian says: "If possible, stocking up on summer essentials in winter and vice versa can save you money.
"But prices of seasonal products do change throughout the year."
For example, supermarkets including Tesco and Morrisons sold their leftover Easter eggs at half price in April this year.
Get a loyalty card
Signing up for a supermarket loyalty card can often help you to get cheaper prices on essentials.
Julian says: "If you haven’t joined your supermarket’s loyalty scheme – you should.
"Arguably, you should join multiple loyalty schemes.
"All leading supermarkets offer a bespoke loyalty scheme, giving you personalised discount offers and the ability to save up ‘points’ to be redeemed on future discounts"
The Sun compared the best supermarket loyalty cards in this handy guide.
Tesco offers one point for every £1 you spend in store or online, including F&F clothing.
You can also get points for using Tesco Clubcard Pay+, Tesco Bank Credit card and Tesco Mobile.
You can even earn extra points by doing surveys and filling up on fuel at Esso too.
That means 150 points gets you a £1.50 voucher.
Sainsbury's shoppers can collect points through the grocer's Nectar Card scheme.
To collect the points, customers simply shop as usual through the year and scan their Nectar card at the check out either in-store or online.
For every £1 spent, shoppers get one Nectar point – each point is usually worth 0.5p when redeemed in store.
Morrisons shoppers can sign up to the supermarket's loyalty scheme through the My Morrisons app.
Offers can be viewed in the My Morrisons app – which can be downloaded from the App Store for people with Apple iPhones or from the Google Play store for Android users -or on the website.
Fresh vs frozen
Buying frozen food rather than fresh can save you a lot of cash as well as leaving you with less waste.
"I recommend buying frozen goods over fresh, particularly fruit.
"Not only is it cheaper, but fresh food wastage is one of the biggest things that will lose you money.
"Stock up on frozen and non perishable goods wherever possible."
A 300g pack of raspberries from Morrisons costs £2.99, where as a frozen bag costs just £1.99.
Asda customers can save £1 by buying a frozen 350g bag of blueberries at £2 compared with a fresh tray for £3.
Plan your meals
Meal planning is a popular way of saving money on your food shopping.
Julian recommends planning your meals around long-lasting ingredients, rather than fresh food, to save money in the long term.
He says: "If you buy two packets of chicken breasts, you only have a short window to eat it before it goes off.
"On the other hand, if you plan your meal around a non-perishable food like rice, you can pick up and choose whenever you want to have chicken with it."
Expert meal prepper Steven Brown shared his top tips for meal prepping that can help you save up to 50% in costs.
Swap to own brand
Julian says swapping ditching items with labels like "finest" in favour of "own" or "value" could save you £1,00 over the year.
He says: "By doing this, you get the same products with slightly different packaging.
"You can save as much as 30% on your weekly shopping."
The Sun regularly tests supermarket own brand products to see if they can beat the big brands.
Lidl's own brand Freeway Cola costing 47p beat other supermarket's own brands to be crowned the best by The Sun.
While the budget supermarket's own brand orange juice was also found to be the best alternative to Tropicana.
The brand's Smooth Orange Juice costs £2.75 compared to Lidl's Simply Orange Juice, which is just 55p.
Where can I get help with my food bill?
If you are struggling with your food bill then there are a number of charities and organisations which may be able to help, on top of the providers that offer their own grants.
Hard-up households can grab free cash towards essential living costs, including a £36 voucher for food items.
The extra support comes as part of the government's Household Support Fund (HSF) initiative.
The current batch of funding will be available until September 30 – but households are being urged to apply for help as soon as possible.
Money is dished out to local councils, which will decide what sort of help to offer in their area and who is eligible.
To find out what support is on offer in your area, speak directly to your local council, or visit its website for more details.
Even if you're not eligible for help under the Household Support Fund you may be eligible for cash elsewhere to help with the cost of living.
A number of councils have opened up their applications for a discretionary fund to help those on Universal Credit, Council Tax Support and other means-tested benefits. You could get up to £300.
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Millions of pensioners are also set to get an extra £300 later on this year. Those on Universal Credit and benefits will also get a one-off payment of £650 to help with the cost of living.
If you are worried about the cost of living or debt, then a number of charities may also be able to offer free advice or help:
- National Debtline – 0808 808 4000
- Step Change – 0800 138 1111
- Citizens Advice – 0808 800 9060
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